From space the water world of Gliese looks like a peaceful paradise. Small islands with stunning white sand beaches dot the beautiful emerald seas. Bright turquoise Riu trees sway in the gentle breeze.

It’s an illusion. Gliese is a hellhole where few survive past thirty. Most of the inhabitants live in shacks and would slit your throat for a bottle of clean water. Those white sand beaches are full of hungry blood fleas. Any lifeform that set foot on an untreated island is dead within an hour.

The wandering groves of carnivorous Riu trees thrive in the warm water and are incredibly difficult to outswim. They have sharp, spiky leaves, and if cut, ooze crimson sap. Their tentacle-like roots propel them across the seas in their search for food. Anyone stupid enough to get too close, finds themselves wrapped in small feeder roots and digested until only a hollow shell remains.   

Fishing is Gliese’s sole legitimate business. Factory trawlers of all shapes and sizes sail the oceans searching for a clawed lobster-like fish called fangtooth. The popular delicacy sells on the open market for six hundred credits a pound. The fangtooth are difficult to catch and a single bite triggers an agonizing death.

There are no cities. No skyscrapers. Only a handful of villages are scattered around the planet. Agbon spaceport’s primary function is to export fangtooth. The spaceport was built on a rocky island stripped of all sand and vegetation. A labyrinth of thousands of floating shanties surrounds the port. Independent fishermen, day laborers and the lost live in these slums. The two room shanties are made from poly-plastic which offers little protection from the blazing sun or storms. The shantytowns have no police, or garbage collectors, or working toilets, or power. A few lucky souls have small solar generators.

The only form of government is the Shadow Thieves Guild. Master Crom is the current leader. He reminds me of a fat toad with pebbly green skin and soulless black eyes. His father was a Hrungnir trader, and no one knew what race his mother belonged to. Crom murdered his parents when he turned twenty-one for the bounty on their heads. Crom rules his empire from a fishing trawler he converted into a lavish palace.

How did I end up on Gliese? My father, Jabaan, was a half-Coletti, half-Farin thief who helped himself to an Alliance prototype weapon during a Tai-Kok attack on Earth. My mother, Kismet Dragos, also a thief, had been tasked to steal the same weapon. According to my mother, it was love at first sight.

Uncle Ax, who is the spitting image of my father, said the only reason they teamed up was to escape the enforcers. They fled Earth and settled on Gliese. Why? Because there was a million-dollar bounty on their heads and even the deadly Coletti warriors avoided this hellhole.